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Improving Wireless LAN (WiFi) performance

Wireless LAN is very convenient, but perfect unterrupted coverage and range isn't always possible. If you have a problem with WiFi connectivity or performance, it may have an obvious symptom such as the connection dropping in or out or performance issues may not immediately be obvious. The following factors should be considered when wishing to optimise your wireless performance:

  1. Position your WiFi base (router, access point etc) optimally. It may be tidy sitting inside a cupboard somewhere, but if it's far from where your client devices are, your performance will suffer. Try to reposition the Wifi Device (router) as centrally/near as possible to the devices which need to access it. Every wall and every ceiling attenuates your wireless signal; a thick wall, or one with embedded metalwork will attenuate even more so positioning your base is vital.
  2. Adjust your aerials' position/orientation.Turning the router to face a different direction or adjusting the aerials' position can have an effect on performance. Some users report that positioning the aerials at 45 degrees (as opposed to straight up) on their router can improve signal strength. Putting the aerials at 90 deg (horizonal) could be a better orientation for coverage to a floor above or below. Note : This is anecdotal, so experiment yourself.
  3. Check for interference from other devices. If your performance is unacceptable, check for other devices, temporarily turning them off or relocating them to see if it makes an improvement or has any effect on your wireless LAN. The following devices are all identified sources of potential interference:
  4. Try to select the clearest channel. Both your router and your pc/tablet/phone can scan for other WiFi devices and show what channels they are on. In the 2.4Ghz band, although there are 12 channels, each 802.11n connection uses four channels so there are really only 3 non-overlapping channels (see link). There are 3rd party software tools for scanning, such as InSSider. Once you have scanned for other devices, try to select the channel with the least number of other devices on it, or with the weakest signals.
  5. Use an alternative band. If your router/access point and client devices (PC/tablet etc.) support it, consider using the 5Ghz band where congestion is less.
  6. Replace your aerials. Experiment with higher gain aeriels to see if they improve coverage or performance. Also check that they are properly attached to your router to ensure a good physical connection.
  7. Compare performance with other client devices. In order to confirm or eliminate compatibility issues, turn off the device you're testing and test with a different device. e.g. turn off you main wireless laptop and check with someone else's laptop or other device with wireless capability.
  8. Update your drivers. If you have old firmware from your vendor, see if there is newer firmware or drivers. This applies to both your WiFi adaptor on your PC/wireless device and also your base unit (router/access point).
  9. Add an additional WiFi base or repeater. If you are really not getting sufficient coverage, you could consider installating additional access points. These need to be wired back to your main network/router. Alternatively you can set an access point into 'repeater' mode which will extend the range of your main WiFi device.

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